Senate Bill 328 was put into effect July 1, mandating California high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and middle schools no earlier than 8 a.m. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Education

Opinion: New late-start law: For better or worse?

The idea of later start times for California schools can be viewed as a fruitful one, but once put in perspective, no real change is made.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/samarmultani17/" target="_self">Samar Multani</a>

Samar Multani

October 5, 2022
Recently, the state of California became the first state to pass legislation for later school start times. As great as it sounds, the argument can go either way. For the majority of teenagers in California, this newly passed law doesn’t change a thing.

This was put into effect on July 1. Legislators passed Senate Bill 328 in 2019, requiring California public high schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and middle schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m.

Supporters of the bill claim that the extra sleep teenagers receive from this law will undoubtedly aid their health in the long run. Advocates of this legislation believe the previous start times of schools nationwide were far too early, leading to chronic sleep deprivation among teenagers, who need 8 to 10 hours of sleep to healthily succeed academically.

One supporter of the law is Lisa L. Lewis, an author of the book “The Sleep-Deprived Teen,” which highlights the chronic impact of sleep deprivation on the mental health of teenagers worldwide. Lewis told the New York Times that places where school start times have been pushed back have seen positive results.

As great as the implementation of the new law sounds, for a majority of teens, nothing has changed. California high schools include a multitude of athletes. Pushing back school start times means that school ends later as well, in order to suffice for the proper amount of educational time for each class.

Classes ending later in turn means that practice for a sport, which most teenagers, including myself, have right after school, is also pushed back. Imposing the law on the times that school starts does not impose anything upon the duration of team practices.

For myself, a four-hour football practice that used to start at 1:30 p.m. now starts at 2 p.m., and ends at 6 p.m. instead of 5:30. Many teens have homework after practice, and balancing a social life while in high school is also important. With everything else getting delayed with the later start of school, so does the time that an average high school teenager participating in a sport goes to sleep.

Later sleeping time for a later wake-up time does not cultivate a change. A teenager gets eight hours of sleep before and after the law was implemented. The only addition is a delay in his daily activities.

All in all, the idea of later start times for schools across the state of California can be viewed as a fruitful one, but once put in perspective, no change is implemented. Advocates of the law fail to view high school students in California through an open lens — they don’t really account for the other activities most teens include in their daily lives. With sports, clubs, and a social life remaining critical and essential aspects of student’s lives, the law fails to account for the times that these activities now begin and end.